Building a Strong Leadership Pipeline: The Crucial Role of Leadership Development in Succession Planning

Building a Strong Leadership Pipeline: The Crucial Role of Leadership Development in Succession Planning
June 26, 2023 Linda Murray

Succession planning is a vital process that guarantees the long-term prosperity and continuity of organisations. It involves identifying and nurturing up-and-coming leaders who can successfully assume critical leadership roles. At the heart of effective succession planning lies robust leadership development programs. In this blog post, we will delve into the crucial role played by leadership development in successful succession planning. We will examine the 70/20/10 approach to leadership development to build a solid leadership pipeline today and reap the rewards of a thriving organisation tomorrow.


One of the fundamental principles we’ll explore is the 70/20/10 approach to learning, developed in the 1980’s by three researchers working with the Center for Creative Leadership (Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger) whilst researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers.. We’ve talked about it more in depth here, however, this model recognises that the majority of adult learning comes from experience rather than formal study.

EDUCATION: According to this approach, only 10% of learning comes from formal learning, which encompasses structured training programs and guided research. While formal education is important, it represents only a small portion of our overall understanding.

EXPOSURE: 20% of learning comes from coaching or feedback from others, known as social learning. This includes learning from others’ guidance and observations, such as cooking with a skilled family member or observing someone using a vending machine. 

EXPERIENTIAL:  The remaining 70% of learning occurs through actively doing, through trial and error. We learn from our experiences and experiments, like understanding the consequences of touching a flame or using the wrong type of fuel in a vehicle. 

By embracing the 70/20/10 approach, organisations and leaders can focus on gaining real-world experience and interpersonal connections while still incorporating structured training programs when needed. This well-rounded approach enhances leadership development and equips potential leaders with the necessary skills and competencies to thrive in future leadership roles.

Leadership development programs are key in nurturing potential leaders identified through succession planning. These programs provide structured learning experiences and skill-building opportunities to enhance leadership competencies. They focus on the personal and professional growth of individuals, empowering them to unlock their full potential. By investing in leadership development, you not only develop capable leaders but also strengthen their talent pipeline, ensuring a smooth transition during leadership changes. They also foster a culture of engagement, growth, and continuous improvement. By equipping individuals with the necessary tools and skills, these programs lay the foundation for a strong leadership pipeline, ensuring a bright future for the organisation even amidst leadership transitions.

If you’re interested in exploring leadership development further, we invite you to learn more about our Emerging and Aspire Leadership development programs. These programs are designed to nurture and empower individuals to reach their full leadership potential. Subscribe to our Athena Insights newsletter for regular updates on leadership development, succession planning, and other topics related to achieving success in the business world. 


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